A number of weeks ago, I discussed the need for social media as an asset in the film industry, and how it can be used to revolutionize the film process – not only in creation but also in getting diverse actors. Continuing on that point, social media has power, power in not only making sure certain movie producers hear fans anger, but also, it can be used to find talent and make sure that anger never needs to happen.
Just last week Disney fans were in such a rage about a rumor that their upcoming adaption would have no songs that the director had to come out and make a public statement that none of these decisions were final in anyway. Social media is a powerful, especially Twitter. Twitter has the power to connect people of fame to average people, or other people of fame to other people of fame. Recently on Instagram the director of the 6th Mission Impossible movie posted a picture asking if actor Henry Cavill was interested in being in his movie. They then both had a conversation in the comments of the post. Henry Cavill then posted a picture on his Instagram the next day confirming his involvement in the film. If a big name can get a role through the most informal medium what does that mean for people with a small name?
With social media, the best way to get your name out there is to have a lot of followers, or at least a very active social media presence. With young people, who are more adapt at the platform, it comes as second nature, like with Netflix’s casting call for unknowns in their role of a 14 year old Asian-american trans boy. The casting call found its way to social media and from there, Ian Alexander – who fit the role to a T – who is a teen who spent a lot of time on Twitter and Tumblr, got the role. A trans character being played by a trans actor, a perfect match. Netflix put a lot of effort and dedication into finding the right actor for their content, and using social media, got the job done. When it comes to other movies and such, you wonder what else goes on in the casting process, if they have these tools at their disposal and do not use them? When it comes to “finding the right person for the role” how much of that is just an excuse when it comes to blatant white washing and casting men as trans women.
The current state of using social media to cast has been more problematic than helpful. The ideal of social media would to be to find unknown actors and introduce new people into the industry and make it more diverse and interesting. Instead Hollywood is choosing people based off of Instagram numbers and such instead of pure talent, and then agents are making their actors post more instead of being those “right people” we always hear about. Actress Emma Thompson recently spoke about this trend saying “We’re casting actors who’ve got big followings because they’ve got big followings, So the studios can use their followings to sell the movies. Actors are becoming attached in a sort of business way to their social media profiles, and I think that’s a disaster. She added: “If they’re good then all right, fine. But I’d say that is rare. Perhaps it’s fuddy-duddy of me to be worried [about social media], but it does worry me dreadfully.”
Social Media can truly revolutionize the way Hollywood finds people and can really do some good in the diversity department, but of course all good things can be used for more sinister means.If Hollywood wants to keep using the phrase “best person for the role” it better stick to it, and use social media to find good actors who actually fit the roles, not just big names or big follower counts.